Religious Studies Paper on Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy

Explain the meaning of each of the following terms

  1. Meta-ethics

It is part of ethics that seeks to explore the meaning of use of ethical language. For instance, what do we mean by Good or Bad, right or wrong?

  1. Deontology

A system of ethics that judges actions based on whether they adhere to a rule or a set of rules.

It deals with duty, moral obligation, and right action.


  1. Consequentialism (or its most well-known form, utilitarianism)

Consequentialism says that right or wrong depend on the consequences of an act, and that the more good consequences are produced, the better the act. There are two examples of consequentialism; utilitarianism and hedonism. Utilitarianism judges consequences by a “greatest good for the greatest number” standard. Hedonism, on the other hand, says something is “good” if the consequence produces pleasure or avoids pain.


  1. Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics is person rather than action based: it looks at the virtue or moral character of the person carrying out an action, rather than at ethical duties and rules, or the consequences of particular actions. It provides guidance as to the sort of characteristics and behaviors a good person will seek to achieve.

  1. How does Keown distinguish between ‘normative’ ethics and ‘prescriptive’ ethics?

Normative ethics is the study of how people ought to behave. It is an argumentative discipline aimed at sorting out what behaviors (or rules for behavior) would be best. On the other hand, prescriptive ethics suggest a course of action.


  1. What do Western philosophers mean when they claim that Buddhist philosophy has no meta-ethics. Buddhism respected the ethics of other systems and mostly seeks to change our ways by changing ourselves through educating ourselves to Buddha while most of the western philosopher believed in avoiding evil to do right and doing good instead of evil.
  2. What is the difference between ‘Methodism’ and ‘Particularism’ as explained by Hallisey?

Particularism is the view that the moral status of an action is not in any way determined by moral principles; rather, it depends on the configuration of the morally relevant features of the action. While in Hallisey view, Methodism identifies the best method out of a particular action and then outlines how much knowledge has been given to that method. Methodism has a high regard for consistency (Hallisey, 1996).

  1. Explain how/why Buswell and Gimelo think ‘marga’ can function as an appropriate, non-Western concept to use in the study of religious philosophy generally.

In their view Buswell and Gimelo thought that marga has a range and theoretical potential sufficient to allow its use in Christian, Jewish and Islamic marga. This is so because marga has been given the most sustained and comprehensive study.


  1. Give at least 3 reasons why the monks/nuns who wrote the early Buddhist poems decided to renounce worldly life and become ordained.
  2. They wanted to emulate Christ’s example of leaving a life without earthly possessions.
  3. The isolation offered better hope of salvation.
  4. Worldly life put the nuns into devils temptations and renouncing worldly life helped them withstand.


  1. Explain the prominent attitude toward the body found in the poems of the early monks and nuns

Poems of the monks and nuns used  artistic literature to express state of emotion or state of mind, the classic emotion were eight and were; love, humor, grief, anger, energy, fear, disgust, and astonishment and each of the emotion had its corresponding savor.

  1. Provide a translation of the word Dana and explain its importance in Buddhism

Dana : Giving, liberality; offering, alms. Specifically, giving of any of the four requisites to the monastic order. More generally, the inclination to give, without expecting any form of repayment from the recipient. Dana is the first theme in the Buddha’s system of gradual training, the first of the ten paramis, one of the seven treasures, and the first of the three grounds for meritorious action. In the Buddhist tradition, the teachings are given freely because they are considered priceless; in the Buddhist tradition we also practice Dana, or generosity, by making monetary offerings for the teachings. Dana is not payment for goods or services rendered; it is given from the heart. Your generosity is a gift that supports not just the teachers, but also the Sangha, the larger Dharma community, and your own practice.

  1. The monks of early Indian Buddhism were mainly concerned with philosophical issues and meditation, and didn’t put much emphasis on training in ethical practices since such external acts have no effect on internal mental transformation.


  1. 13. The Buddha’s Dharma, as a guide to behavior, includes:
  2. a) His teachings on the eight-fold path.
  3. b) Always following the wishes of your family and the responsibilities of home life.
  4. c) Precepts for laypeople.
  5. d) The discipline for monastics.
  6. e) All of the above.
  7. f) a), c), and, d) only


Extra Credit: Explain what a bodhisattva is, from the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism.

The word bodhisattva means “enlightenment”, and it is non atheist religion that teaches and believes that worshipping gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. Therefore, bodhisattvas can be described as beings who work for the enlightenment of all beings, not just themselves.


Work Cited

Hallisey, C. (1996). Ethical Particularism in Theravàda Buddhism. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Volume 3